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SteveNote (Quasi) Live

Like every good follower I shall be glued to my big iMac to listen read the latest news from Steve Jobs when he takes the stage at the WWDC 2010 keynote. Somebody called my a “FanBoi”. But I’d rather be a FanBoy than a Fan of a Boygroup. ;-)

Apple is always extremely protective of their resources. So they just won’t exert any efforts in streaming the event but rather post a stream a couple of hours later on apple.com and add it to the Apple Keynotes Podcast even a few hours after that. But that does not mean that you have to wait for the info. The web is your friend.

UPDATE: Send me your Skype name. We’ve established a skype chat channel and there’s already a lively conversation in progress.

Here are some sites that have a proven track record (for me) of relaying what’s going on. I will plaster my 27″ iMac and my 15″ MacBook Pro with these.

  • Engadget live – Great Live Blog with Photos
  • Gizmodo Live – Usually head to head with Engadget on the frequency of updates and photos
  • TWIT Live – Leo Laporte is broadcasting live and if there’s any live video or audio then he’ll get it
  • MacRumors.com Live – they formatted their live bloggingsite ideally for iPhone/iPad

Other Liveblogs (as recommended by Gizmodo) to take your pick from: gdgtArs TechnicaWiredTechnologizer,NYTMac Life, and Apple Insider.

I won’t be making an effort to relay the info, because so many other people are doing that. But I’ll be making notes as to which things are of especial interest and importance to us iPhone developers.

Newly published: iOdometer

Previously I explained how I am approaching iPhone development in a broad spectrum. The vehicle for my business is a company called Drobnik KG, or as I refer to it in IT context: drobnik.com.

We have a publishing contract with young Laurens whose apps are already making up a major portion of our daily sales. The agreement works like this: I’m taking care of the stresses with dealing with Apple, submitting the app and maintaining the SVN-server where the apps are being developed. For this convenience Laurens is sharing part of the profits with us.

And profits they are! Over the last half year this arrangement netted Laurens sufficient funds to buy a Mac. Thus invigorated he sat down and developed a distance measuring app: iOdometer. This, too, is selling far better than I might have guessed. So I refrain from making any future predictions concerning Laurens’ success. For some strange reason he seems to exactly hit the nerve of what people are willing to pay for.

Maybe that’s because of the high quality components from Dr. Touch’s Parts Store he implemented: DTLEDNumberView and DTMenuController. Being able to rely on their sturdiness and ease of implementation he was able to focus on the app’s main feature set and bring it to market in record time.

iOdometer is available on the app store. Version 1.1 has been submitted to Apple, it features better accuracy and a new icon. Other successful apps by Laurens are Frequency Annoyer and Full Screen Browser.

SpeakerClock 1.1

My previous article covering an iPhone-to-Universal migration inspired me so much that I spent two days on getting the HD-upgrade for SpeakerClock ready to ship.

Changes

  • Universal app, runs on iPhone and on iPad in native resolution
  • Portrait Mode, now all orientations are supported
  • Now screen flashes in the appropriate color when threshold to yellow or red is passed
  • In-App Purchase for 5 presets instead of one
  • Lot’s of minor usability improvements

I didn’t know if Apple would approve an iPad-ready app if it did not support all orientations. So I implemented a mode for portrait orientations for iPad and retrofitted it for iPhone as well.

A big thank you goes to Erica Sadun who inspired me to take on these changes. When I met her on the Voices That Matter Conference in Seattle she played around with SpeakerClock as if it where the coolest of all toys, making me really proud of it. But I cringed seeing the iPhone-app on her iPad so I definitely had to make a HD-version. I dedicate this one to Erica.

I also added the information on how to start and stop the timer to the instructions. Some people did not understand that you can do so by simply tapping the screen.

Also this version marks the end of the “free trial” for SpeakerClock 1.0. As soon as it goes live I will raise the price. So if you want to get it for free, then better get it now. If you liked 1.0 then the new + button is your chance to show your appreciation, it will give you 5 instead of 1 preset. A preset saves the timer starting value, the yellow and the red threshold values.

Personally I use SpeakerClock whenever I’m recording YouTube videos. A couple of times I went over the maximum of 10 minutes and my handy timer prevents this for good. Here’s a demo of the old and new features.

SpeakerClock 1.1. has been submitted to Apple for approval.

UPDATE: … has been approved.

UPDATE 2: … has a nasty bug where it would crash on all iPhones with an OS Version less than 4.0. So I already submitted an 1.1.1 update.

UPDATE 3: The 1.1.1 hotfix is now available on the app store.

From iPhone to Hybrid

I started out with a simple project of mine, the demo I made for DTNotepadViewController. This is a navigation stack which has a UITableView. From there you can select an entry to get a detail view looking like note paper.

The goal is to convert this iPhone-only app into a hybrid app that uses a split view on iPad.

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DTCustomSwitch

I wanted to use a UISwitch in iWoman to select between Celsius and Fahrenheit for the temperature scale. UISwitch being in my humble opinion the quickest method to switch between two values. Unfortunately Apple does not give us any kind of customization capability.

Homick tried to fill this need by making a custom view and providing a photoshop file that you could change. But that’s not how we do things in Dr. Touchistan. I totally revamped Homick’s code and brought it up to snuff to what I needed. Most importantly the color and labels needed to be fully customizable IN CODE.

DTCustomSwitch is almost entirely written from ground up as a UIControl where you can customize the text and looks of of both labels as you please. Even set the background color. That so far fulfills my needs for iWoman 2.0, but if you have any ideas on how to even more customize it, let me know.

Peter Steinberger informed me that you can also drag the knob for sort of a “slow switching”, something I had not thought about initially. But so I spent a couple of hours honing the animation behavior to get as close to the original as possible. Now DTCustomSwitch even does that.

DTCustomSwitch will available via the Dr. Touch’s Parts Store for 50 Euros.

Candid Steve Jobs at D8

Steve Jobs is one of the most interesting guests of Malt Mossberg at his All Things Digital D8 Conference. There is a summary of his Q&A session available, but the most interesting parts are the videos they posted. I compiled them into one overview here so that you don’t have to search for them and provided a summary for each.

iPhone

Steve had the idea for a tablet without keyboard first and ordered his engineers to develop a glass multi-touch display. When they came back to him and showed him the inertial scrolling and rubberbanding he got the inspiration to do a phone first. So they shelved the iPad and later “when they got their wind back” returned to it and used what they learned on the iPhone.


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Saturday Morning, Breakfast, Wired eMag

I’ve always loved to read glossy tech magazines. In fact I feared that I would like them too much to be unable to throw them away. When I was young I had an extensive collection of P.M. (a German popular science mag) that came right to fill the hole that selling my Mickey Mouse collection had left. So I wend cold turkey, no subscription only buying on vacations, as to avoid assembling high towering stacks of paper.

With the iPad I fulfilled my first dream of having a PADD like Jean Luc Piccard, so it was no question that I had to purchase the first digital WIRED app/magazine that came out last week. Many people rambled about the price tag, $4, but I think that’s fair, because you get way more value than you would in paper. Let me share my impressions and let’s peek under the hood of the first eMag that deserves to be called that.

Sipping a fresh espresso with a bit of cream, browsing through the Wired eMagazine. Let’s have a look at how it is to read it and look behind the scenes to see what we can learn from it as iPhone/iPad developers. Maybe there’s an eMagazine of our own in our future?

UPDATE: Here’s Adobe’s Promo for the Magazine. Adobe has announced that soon there will be software on Adobe Labs to do do what they did for WIRED for any InDesign publication.

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Making Your Own iPhone Frameworks. In Xcode.

Back in April Oliver wrote an excellent article entitled “Making Your Own iPhone Frameworks”, in which he explained how to do what many developers still proclaim as impossible: how to create custom frameworks that you can use in your iPhone apps! I would recommend that you read Oliver’s article first, especially if you’re wondering what a framework is… or, possibly, why you should consider making your own frameworks. I wont talk about that here :).

To build frameworks Oliver wrote a simple shell script that first creates a typical framework bundle, and then copies resources into the appropriate directories. In this followup article, I’ll show you how to create the framework bundle entirely within Xcode, without any scripts, plugins, product-, or package-types. While this has a few advantages, I’m not claiming that my approach is in any way perfect, and there may be problems that I haven’t encountered yet. As always, this is a work in progress, so if you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave your comments below.

Enough talking. Lets get started –

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Renewing Certificates and Provisioning Profiles in under 10 Minutes

Once a year you are required to refresh your two certificates and all provisioning profiles that use these. Mine had expired and so I made a screen capture to show you how painless the renewal process can be. At the same time it also shows newcomers how to best set up their stuff on the provisioning portal.

Hint: if you find that the Submit button is not working, you can also go into the provisioning profile name field and hit Enter.

For regular development work it’s generally sufficient to have only 3 provisioning profiles:

  • “Development” – uses your “iPhone Developer” certificate, a * wildcard app identifier and all your development devices
  • “AdHoc” – uses your “iPhone Distribution” certificate, a * wildcard app identifier and all devices you want to do ad-hoc builds for
  • “AppStore” – uses your “iPhone Distribution” certificate, and if you don’t do IAP or Push Notifications you can use a wildcard app identifier as well

You don’t need to create a new app identifier on the portal for each new app that you begin. You only ever need unique app identifiers if you publish an app capable of InAppPurchases or Push Notifications.You can change the app identifier with every upload to Apple, contrary to the bundle identifier in the info.plist which has to stay the same for the app to be accepted as an update. New bundle identifier means new app.

Once you have gone through the steps shown in the video you are good to go for another year, until the certificates expire once more.

World Cup Pools App

In case you where wondering … I was busy with an app I did in cooperation with Andreas Heck of der.heckser. According to my time tracker I spent 87 hours on it to get it to version 1.0 and yesterday, after twoandahalf intense weeks we sent version 1.0 to Apple for approval.

Let me give you a VIP tour of the app, first showing off the prettiness and functionality of the app itself:

After that, the second part shows you how my Xcode project looks like and I’m explaining some of the hurdles we had to overcome. This is for you beginning developers out there, but I’m hoping – if you are a seasoned pro – you still might find it interesting.

For an app like this it is essential that you spread the work amongst several people if you want to be able to finish it in about two weeks. When I get asked by new customers I am always responding “I’m a programmer, not a designer”. That’s actually bending the truth. I could probably design a decent app if I wanted to. Although my personal method of designing apps is to: build it, try it, improve it, rinse and repeat. That’s the kind of approach which is hard to get paid for, especially if the typical customer is not willing to pay more than a thousand dollars a pop.

The second thing I generally try to avoid is server-side work. I have done a bit of VB.NET programming on my server and I could do most of the things I would need, but I just hate it. Cannot tell you why, I’m in love with objective-C and anything else feels wrong to me. And any app that is social or needs the cloud to work needs a server to run off of.

Often customers are not aware of these two factors, and the different skillsets necessary.

I was glad that Andreas Heck approached me for a partnership where I could do what I do best. And he did that with sufficient funds to get the project flying. I mention currency as one of the essential ingredients because generally funding is what makes or breaks an app. Sure, you can write apps in your spare time, but then they are ripening in months, not weeks. Not a chance getting it done before this year’s soccer world cup.

Also if you’re a full time iPhone developer like me, then two weeks of non-stop work mean that you have to make have of what you need to sustain yourself financially in that time. Otherwise you have to divide your attention between a project like this and a well paying one.

It’s as simple as that: there there are some areas where you are way better than others. Money buys you the difference in time. This project has again proven to me that great apps need a team, even if it’s just two people.

UPDATE: The regular version of the app was approved by Apple on June 2nd after requesting that we remove “FIFA” from the list of keywords. We used this as an opportunity to fix a couple of minor bugs and raise the version to 1.0.1:

  • FIXED: Potential crash after user creation
  • FIXED: Inconsistent use of … and > on tableview cells
  • FIXED: Invitations to Pools would show with a %20 instead of a space
  • FIXED: Issue with animation going straight to entering an e-mail
  • FIXED: Some too long German expressions

The pro version is still under review, but you get the same functionality if you purchase the normal version and then use In-App-Upgrade to Pro.

Available on the iPhone App Store